Things I learned today

Reading through the 80+ comments, this is just some of the stuff that came up tonight.

I feel a little bit smarter tonight than I did yesterday :) Thanks. At least this list of stuff will give me lots of food for blogging thought over the next few weeks.

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36 responses to “Things I learned today

  1. I appreciate your making a list of the things you learn from your comments. I will definitely be trying out most of these apps myself.

  2. My blog is crappy, but I only maintain it for fun. Never the less I learned a lot from internet guru Jakob Nielsen’s advice:

    Thought this might be helpful to you too.

  3. I am a switcher too, since November 2005. I now use the iMac G5 as my personal computer, only cracking open my Windows laptop for work.

    I continue to use Firefox on OS X, mainly because of extensions…I just can’t get Safari or Camino to behave the way I want them to. Firefox is also fast enough for me…I don’t really notice a difference in rendering speed between browsers.

    I will definitely follow your blog, as I am still learning tips and tricks about OS X. I will also share some tricks of my own (like this cool way to combine PDF files on OS X:

  4. Way to go, and congrats on the traffic. I am a fellow switcher ( and I am book marking your site for future reference. I love to see friendly and open sites about people swtiching to the Mac. Thanks again!

  5. I was pretty excited when I ran across your blog today. I’ve been documenting my switch from Windows to Mac as well, and we seem to have the similar “power user” characteristics.

    For small issues you run into, I reccomend the #mac channel on as a great place for support.

    Isn’t it nice using the Macbook instead of Windows? Had I known, I would probably have switched well before now.


  6. Nathan Sweeney

    Hey there, I’m another power MS user turned machead, since May 2005. Love every minute.

    I add to the suggestion you try out QuickSilver. It seems weird and not at all usefull until you wrap your head around it, then you can’t live without it. For instance, I can quickly hit “alt-space ‘hal’ tab ‘com’ tab ‘th’ return” and it will automatically find the file “”, compose an email with it as an attachment, and put Thomas from my address book as the recipient. Or “alt-space ‘c’ tab ‘q’ return” to quit Camino without having to swith from whatever application I am working in at the time. It’s like Spotlight but so much more.

    Have fun with your MBP.

  7. So I’m another one person from TUAW, also a recent switcher (December 05), though trained to be a network/system administrator. It’s been great to read your stuff and I’ve found some helpful bits. I can’t offer much advice, but I will say that the huge thing I love about mac is the ability to drag objects… images, text, whatever, between applications. Hilight a couple images in iPhoto, drag them to the desktop, boom there is a copy on your desktop (finder) how cool is that? It’s taken me a long time to get used to that, but it’s so handy. Also, you’ll love expose. And the stability (force quit is pretty awsome, coming from the person who was very used to killing explorer entirely then relaunching it to work on a laptop) as are a billion other features. If there is one thing I would recomend, however, it’s that you grab one of the apple certified training manuels. Yes, they are quite thick reading, but read a chapter when you have a chance and you will learn a ton about macs in general. I worked my way through the os x book (can’t hurt to have os x certs either, right?) and am working on the os x server one now, but the tiny bits of info I have gained reading parts of it has been amazing, even if the books are dry at times…

  8. Check out Jon Hicks’ Safari blog, It has great Safari resources.

  9. Here’s a really useful one for you. apple-shift-3 takes a screenshot and saves it to a pdf file right on your desktop.

  10. …oh, and while we’re at it:
    apple-shift-4 is even more handy (chose your frame…) add space to it and you’ve got a shot of your app / window.
    i use that one a lot. dunno why ;)

    btw: welcome to mac.

  11. Shift-Command-4 (or Shift-Apple-4 if you wish) – screengrab with the crosshair cursor – will *also* grab a whole window, with a minimum of fuss. Hit the spacebar at the crosshairs cursor and that will change to a camera. Mouse around to select the window you want and click. A new PNG file with just a screenshot of your selected window will appear on the desktop.

  12. Cheers for the honourable mention. Apparently Aozora Bank in Japan is switching 2300 desktops (got the link on my blog but the url is hideously long) to OS X.

    Another gotcha is “X” is read “ten” and not “ex”. Almost embarassed myself on that. I was thinking along the lines of Malcolm X.

    People from the programming community would additionaly recommend Textmate as a good lightweight editor:

    I wont bombard you with too much but it’s nice to see a fellow switcher. I’ve used Windows since 3.1. I actually don’t regret it so much. If I could go back, I’d start with 10.1. A colleague using OS 9 couldn’t deal with the frequent crashes and the first release of OS X was really rough.

    I’ll be watching this space and hope to pick up some new tricks along the way.

  13. (doh, I should have read Paul’s whole comment. hehe)

  14. Some other nice apps you could give a try:

    Cyberduck (FTP-Client):

    Growl (Notifications):

    Statoo (brings current iTunes title, diskspace and other stuff to your desktop):

  15. You mention Adium in your article. Personally I love the integration you get with iChat, but out of the box this client has its limitations.

    I use iChat as a Jabber client and can then connect to the other major networks (MSN, AIM, ICQ, IRC)

    To pimp up iChat from its limitations I use Chax [1] which provides several great additional features to iChat.


    Welcome to the Mac community!

  16. I must admit I haven’t used Adium since some time last year, is it still impossible to rearrange imported groups from AIM/MSN/ICQ?
    That was quite annoying.

  17. One thing to watch out for: none of the PPC prefpanes will work on the MBP. This includes DoubleCommand, any Unsanity stuff and Little Snitch. You’ll have to find Universal versions before they work. Little Snitch is already Universal, but none of the others that I use are yet. DoubleCommand is definately worth waiting on, and you should pick up Little Snitch ASAP!

  18. Another app that you might like to try is Cocktail

    It’s a general purpose utility for OSX. Very useful to keep your Mac running as it should. I wish Apple released something like this although they do have repair permissions in Disk Utility.

  19. Dave,

    Add me to the many voices that say try Quicksliver. In fact, run, don’t walk, to the quicksilver website. Then spend some time with the different tutorials. As someone else said, it takes a while to get your head around this app, but once you get the various functions into muscle memory, you will be amazed at how effortlessly you can navigate and manipulate your system.

    One funtion I recently discovered, which won’t mean much to you until you try quicksilver, is command-escape, which sends whatever is selected, whether a block of text or a file, to the first QS window. From there you can do any number of things. For instance: select file, command-escape, tab, “co” (compose e-mail), “mi” (addressee michelle), return. This opens up a new mail message addressed to michelle with the file attached and the file name in the subject line. If you configure QS beforehand, it also places a greeting at the top of the message. Indeed, you could also simply send the file without even opening mail if you so desired.

    Also, if no one has mentioned it yet, try Textpander, a handy little app that allows you to assign keyboard shortcuts to commonly used bits of text. I find it incredibly useful for HTML and e-mail.


  20. You should try Default Folder X. Its the best single utility you can have on a Mac and makes navigation save and open dialogs a breeze. A great time saver.

  21. Just a word of warning from another M$ to Apple convert! If you try and do the overwrite folder like in windows it can cause a whole load of problems as i found out the hard way :-(

    As i’m sure you know if you overwrite a folder on windows it will merge the contents together and only overwrite files of the same name, however on a mac it deletes the old folder and replaces with the new one!!!

  22. Dave,

    I really appreciate the time you are putting in to this blog – you are creating a resource for all of us and I thank you for that. I’ve started switching my household over from Windows after I bought an iPod (yes – the typical story) and then my son asked for a Mac laptop (12″ Powerbook). Now my wife is getting a 15″ MacBook 2ghz and I am thinking of changing over the “family” PC to a Mini. I’ll probably keep one Windows PC somewhere for access to things that you just can’t do on a Mac and I would be interested to see someone compile a list of stuff that doesn’t seem to make the switch. Is this something you would like to do? Among other things, such a list would prompt community members to provide work-arounds/solutions.

    What I would put on the list so far:
    1) Runescape: we just can’t get this java based game ( to run in any browser on the Mac (Safari and Firefox 1.4 tried). My son used to play it but has now moved on. No great loss but it was a casualty of the switch.

    2) Streaming music service – my son used to love to listen to MusicMatch OnDemand. This service (about $100/yr) gave him access to listen (on the “family” computer only) to any of about 800K tracks. So he could listen to CDs and tracks before deciding to buy in iTunes or on CDs. There appear to be no streaming OnDemand music services for the Mac.

    That’s all I can think of now – its a short list so far. I think if I move my primary home computer to Mac, it would get longer as I use lots of specialized software.

    Thanks again for providing a great gathering place.


  23. Mike Butler

    Try Fugu for SFTP:

    Also, JelliyfiSSH for bookmarking terminal (or iTerm) sessions:

  24. Very nice to see your blog. Great resource for all of us. I switched last month. I also love the PDF capabilities of OS X. My favorite is saving PDFs of web receipts. I no longer have to print receipts and then lose the paper. Just “print”, then in the “PDF” drop down menu choose “Save to web receipts folder”. Now I have all my receipts in one place, and no paper!

  25. Quicksilver ROCKS. I’ve tried Opera, Safari, Camino and FF, and came back to Safari for most uses. Some sites/control panels, etc, are still not safari-friendly though.

  26. Oh, and I use CyberDuck for FTP, and LOVE it.

  27. Saw your site on digg, I recently purchased a MacBook Pro .. now I frequently use 3 operating systems:
    At work:
    OS X – Primary Workstation
    Windows 2000 – Outlook and Internet Explorer (for testing)
    At home:
    OS X – Remote Computer
    Windows XP – Games, Development, and Media PC
    OpenBSD – Development

    The job which I have now required that contractors take a corporate laptop .. so I setup TightVNC Server on that laptop and use it through the MacBook with Chicken of the VNC .. which is kind of like EggPlant, but free and GNU:

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  29. Just thought I’d add a great free Safari plugin that stops you accidentally closing your browser when you’ve got more than one tab open. It’s called Taboo and is available here:

  30. Nice Blog!
    Give Safari a second chance. Firefox has tons of usefull additions, but one realy annoying thing with Firefox is, that this app doesn’t respect the proxy settings defined in the system settings. So I came back to Safari and installed some additions:
    – Stand ( allows life sourcecode editing (!), save website to PDF via context menue, rearrange tabs and much more
    – SafariSource ( has a much better syntax coloring than Stand
    – PithHelmet ( not only blocks ads – it cutts ads out and shrinks websites down to the real content

  31. As a fellow Windows ‘Switcher’ – I posted some apps that eased my transition to OS X here.

    My biggest headache was getting all my contacts out of Outlook and into Apple Mail. Found that Little Machines’ O2M was a life saver here!

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  33. As a long-time Windows user and recent switcher, I’ll be watching and reading closely!

  34. Hmm … not really a switcher per se – but an “adder”. I’m a long time windows power user who’s getting his first Mac in a couple weeks to go with my 4 XP machines. I’ve been wondering about the little things that I can do quickly and easily in windows, and whether I’d be pulling my hair out while trying to grok the dao of Mac. This blog will certainly help – thanks!

  35. Just reading through your posts. They are keeping me informed. I am also a switcher. Just switched on Monday when I recieved my Mac-Mini.

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